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Car Care: Controlled experiment - test gloss and durability of the top paint finishes

Update:See this spreadsheet for test data and updates

Here in alphabetical order are the products I’ve decided to test. In most cases Ill be evaluating two coats of the brand’s paint protector/finish followed by two coats of the its associated top finish or gloss detailer (but only if the manufacturer recommends that it be applied over the base protector/finish). In a number of cases the manufacturer claims the base is all that’s needed to provide protection and gloss. In these cases I’ll take them at their word. I’ve marked those products with an asterisk.

These products cover all of the basic chemistries for synthetic paint protection and gloss enhancers available today: PTFE, Polymers, GlasPlexin, Nano Pro, and Ceramic Quartz.

Blackfire Wet Diamond All Finish Paint Protection/Midnight Sun Detailer

CQuartz Ceramic Quartz Paint Protection/Reload Spray Sealant

Glare Professional Polish*

HD Nitro Seal/HD Touch

Klasse All In One Cleaner/Polish/High Gloss Sealant Glaze

Meguiars NXT Generation Tech Wax Paste 2.0* (this is a synthetic finish so I don’t know why they call it a wax.)

Opti-Coat 2.0/Optima Poly Seal

Zaino ZFX/ Z-2 Pro

22ple Vx1 Pro Signature Glass Coat

3M Performance Finish*


With delivery of my multi-coat red Model S coming in April or May I’ve been torn over what of the various paint finishes to use when I have my car detailed upon arrival (yes, I’ll have it detailed before I even drive it). Should it be Zaino? How about Blackfire? What about Glare? Klasse? As nearly all of the manufacturers make many of the same claims it’s hard to make a decision. In fact, the bulls**t factor for these products is beyond belief.

IMHO, as they rely almost wholly on the subjective judgments of the reviewer, none of the online evaluations of the most highly-regarded products are worth a dime. Also it’s hard to know if the reviewers are shills for the product manufacturers. Also, many of the reviews use photographs to show the difference in gloss between the various products evaluated. I also find these useless as often there appears to be little or no difference and even if there is photographs can’t capture it.

So I’ve decided to do my own controlled experiment. One of my good friends has a new red car (the red is a reasonably close match for the Tesla multi-coat red) and she’s agreed let me use it for my experiment. It’s a daily driver, also good for the test I have in mind.

First, I’m going to remove all of the waxes and finishes on the car now. Then I’m going to divide up at least 4 separate test panels (perhaps as many as 8 depending on the number of products I end up testing). I’ll apply, following directions carefully, one product to each test panel.

Second, using a gloss meter (yes, such things do exist), immediately after application, I’ll take several measurements of the gloss of each panel. That will provide a reliable and scientific basis for comparing the gloss each product produces.

Third, for a period of two months I’ll take gloss measurements of the panels in intervals of two weeks. The measurements will be taken after the car has been washed. This should provide some reasonable comparative measure of the durability of the product (or at least its gloss, which is what most of us are concerned about). I’m going to test just the based paint sealants/polish, not the add-on sprays. No waxes will be tested as with the new polymer materials that now seems to be outmoded chemistry for paint protection. I’m also not testing polishes or compounds to remove spiders or scratches. I want to test how these things impart gloss to a new car surface in top condition.

Here’s a preliminary list of the products I plan to test:

Zaino Z-2 PRO Show Car Polish
Blackfire Wet Diamond All Finish Paint Protection
Klasse All-In-One
Glare Professional Polish
HD Nitro Seal

I have these products in hand now, but if anyone wants to nominate other products, please do so and I’ll buy them for the test. I’ll able to test a maximum of eight. I won’t set up the test until the beginning of February, so there’s time for discussion and suggestions about my proposed test approach and the products to test.
 
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if anyone wants to nominate other products, please do so and I’ll buy them for the test.

My custom paint armor installer highly recommended 3M 39030 Performance Synthetic Wax. 3M doesn't advertise this to consumers or make outlandish claims, but apparently it's highly thought of (like 303 Products Protectant,, which is everything that "Armor-All" promises, but isn't, for rubber and vinyl).

One additional question is how compatible the wax is with the paint armor many of us have on our vehicles, and if any of the waxes have UV protection to stop the paint armor film from yellowing over time.

BTW, what are you planning to use to remove the existing wax, and does that work on the synthetic waxes?
 
Great idea and I appreciate the post, looking forward to seeing the results. My favorite is old school and not listed. It's what I will be putting on my Model S when I get it:

Liquid Glass

I suspect not many others will have interest in it, it was most popular in the late 80s/early90s but to me, the end result is still better than the modern stuff (keeping in mind it is a sealant and not really a wax, even though many use it as a wax replacement).

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers.
 
Great idea and I appreciate the post, looking forward to seeing the results. My favorite is old school and not listed. It's what I will be putting on my Model S when I get it:

Liquid Glass

I suspect not many others will have interest in it, it was most popular in the late 80s/early90s but to me, the end result is still better than the modern stuff (keeping in mind it is a sealant and not really a wax, even though many use it as a wax replacement).

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers.

Oh, you poor luddite.
 
Oh, you poor luddite.

How am I destroying manufacturing equipment? (Must admit, I had to look up the definition of luddite, but perhaps the definition did not address your usage--perhaps you just mean I am backwards and against the new way of doing things? That's what I'm going to assume here, being a neophyte to the term :D)

Running with that interpretation... I resemble that comment.

The stuff may be a bitch to apply, but it still looks great (and does retain a cult following even amongst some auto detailers). I also use Klasse AIO and a nice paste wax, but compared to the other sealants I have tried, none seem to have the same depth of shine (if layered) as liquid glass... of course just MHO.

Cheers
 
I suggest something from svisswax.
The best top coat/wax products ive ever used.
_____
Tapatalkin' from iTalatut.

That's a wax and I won't be testing those. All waxes have petroleum distillates in them which shortens their life.

- - - Updated - - -

zymol?

i saw a test between zaino and zymol on an nsx hood they were close but zaino won after 3 months
i`d be curious how it compares since it is available at napa etc.

thanks

Zymol is also a wax product and I'm not testing those.

- - - Updated - - -

Have a look at CarPro c.quartz... pretty interesting stuff.

The c.quartz has a very complicated and lengthy application process so for now i"m going to exclude it. I might test it later though.

- - - Updated - - -

Great idea and I appreciate the post, looking forward to seeing the results. My favorite is old school and not listed. It's what I will be putting on my Model S when I get it:

Liquid Glass

I suspect not many others will have interest in it, it was most popular in the late 80s/early90s but to me, the end result is still better than the modern stuff (keeping in mind it is a sealant and not really a wax, even though many use it as a wax replacement).

Just my 2 cents.

Cheers.

Have to think about that one. It was popular in the 80s but the comments I've read suggest the newer products are much superior. But I haven't ruled it out yet.
 
BTW, here's a pointer to a Controlled Experiment of Opti-Coat 2.0 and Ceramic Quartz.

From what I've gathered, the products that last longer generally have lower gloss. I started my Roadster with Meguiar's NXT 2.0 and have migrated to the 3M 39030 Performance Synthetic Wax because it holds that "slippery" feel longer.

I'm suspicious of any of the manufacturers or marketers own tests. In fact, I don't think they can be trusted. Which is why I'm doing my own. The claims for the Opti-Coat are over the top (basically them claim it lasts forever), as are those of all of these products. So I will include it in my test.
 
BTW, here's a pointer to a Controlled Experiment of Opti-Coat 2.0 and Ceramic Quartz.

From what I've gathered, the products that last longer generally have lower gloss. I started my Roadster with Meguiar's NXT 2.0 and have migrated to the 3M 39030 Performance Synthetic Wax because it holds that "slippery" feel longer.

I read that review many weeks ago. Its a very subjective test. It includes, as many of these reviews do, the usual water run-off photographs. I'm not sure that measure is of any real value. It also includes the usual photographs and subjective evaluations of gloss. It's these kinds of "tests" -- none done with any instrumentation or under controlled conditions -- that made we want to conduct my own. I'm not a scientist or technician, but I do think I can do better that what's out there.

I've given further thought to my tests steps. I've decided not to do the tests on my friend's car. Instead, I've purchased painted aluminum sheet panels, each a foot square and painted in gloss red. First, I'm going clay bar each panel using the same product (haven't decided which yet), but consistency is what counts for this step. Then I'm going to apply two coats of each brand of protectorant and its associated polish/finish, following each product's instructions). Here I'm only going to test the synthetic products (no waxes, as I indicated before, but synthetic waxes like the 3M are ok). I'll let each panel dry or cure according the instructions. After each panel is cured I'll test its gloss using the glossmeter. I'll test 4 points on each panel and average the results.

At that time I'll report the results on this site. Then the panels will be set outside on my deck and exposed to whatever rain, sun, snow, or other weather effects might occur. At two week intervals each panel will be washed (using the same car wash product), water beading photographed, then dried. At that time I'll retest the gloss, and report the results here. Assuming I can get this set up and started within a few weeks, by the time my car arrives the test should have lasted about 3 months. But I'll continue it for at least six months to test the durability of the products (I'm assuming that's long enough as must of us, if we're concerned about the appearance of our cars, will detail them about twice a year).

Certainly this is not a perfect test by any means. But I think it's better than what I've been able to find. An as I have no stake in any of these products and will use some basic instrumentation, it will be objective.

I appreciate the many suggestions that have been made. I'll decide on the products to be tested over the next few days and order the ones I don't already have so I can get the test started ASAP.
 
I presume that, chemically, the surface will be neutral? Is there a clear coat on the aluminum panels and does it make any difference in how the products bond to the surface (ie, physical bond vs. chemical bond)? I don't know the answers to the questions but, since you're using something other than a vehicle, thought I'd bring it up.
 

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